1. Make careful menu selections-pay attention to the description on the menu
Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, alfredo, au gratin or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats or sodium.
2. Look before you leap-check out the chain’s website
Many fast foot chains post nutritional information on their websites. The list’s are often confusing in their detail but if you frequent a favorite chain and often choose certain menu items, you may amazed by the calories, saturated fats and sodium you are consuming.
3. “Undress” your food
When choosing, be aware of calories and fat-packed salad dressings, cheese spreads, sour cream etc. For example ask for a grilled chicken sandwich without the mayo.
4. Don't be afraid to special order
Many menu items would be healthy if it weren't for the way they were prepared. Ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces. If your food is fried or cooked in oil or butter ask to have it broiled or steamed.
5. Watch portion size– share or bring a portion home
At a typical restaurant, a single serving provides enough for two meals. To over come this obstacle, take half home or divide the portion with a dining partner.
6. Watch your salt
Fast food restaurant food tends to be very high in sodium, a major contributor to high blood pressure. Don’t add insult to injury by adding more salt.
7. Avoid buffets-even seemingly healthy ones like salad bars
You’ll likely overeat to get your moneys worth. If you do choose buffet dining, opt for fresh fruits, salads with low-fat dressing, broiled entrees and steamed vegetables. Resist the temptation to go for seconds or wait at least 20 minutes after eating to make sure that you’re really still hungry before going back up to the buffet.
8. Remember soda is a huge source of hidden calories
Arguably soft drinks can be seen as the single biggest source of calories in the American diet. One 32-oz big gulp with non-diet cola packs about 425 calories.
9. Eat mindfully
Mindful eating means paying attention to what you eat and savoring each bite. Being mindful also means noticing when you are almost full and laying down your fork.
10. Remember the big picture
Think of eating out in the context of your whole diet. If it is a special occasion, or you know you want to order your favorite meal at a nice restaurant, cut back on your other meals that day. Moderation is always the key.